Peppers are makin’ Flowers already

I planted my pepper plants back in the beginning of December – the 6th to be exact.   So it’s been a bit over 3 months and flowers are starting to develop.   Since I still have another 3 months before the frost will be gone for good here I may have to take on the task of some pollinating with these peppers.   Normally, outdoors the peppers will pollinate on their own between the bugs, bees and wind helping the situation – indoors, is another story.   I have helped along my gourds the past 2 years since I wanted to guarantee a good harvest.

Once the flowers fully develop and open all that is needed is either a small paintbrush or a q-tip.   Simply swipe the pollen from one flower to the next and keep doing this randomly – you can pretend to be a bee buzzing from flower to flower.

A while back I wrote and published this great post titled Peppers Planted and I am looking forward to making the Red Pepper Soup once again.  It is simply delicious with the Alma Paprika Peppers adding just the right kick of heat and flavor.   A recent arrival in the mail made my day this past week – a new magazine …..

…..looks like some good gardening information for me to read 🙂

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How to Make Graham Crackers

I have always wondered how to make Graham Crackers and finally came across a recipe and guess what……they taste just like store-bought graham crackers!   Once again I left the topping off, but if you want the total graham cracker experience, sprinkle on the topping!

Graham Crackers

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 TB all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat as a substitute for 1 cup all-purpose)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 3/4 tspn coarse sea salt or kosher
  • 7 TB unsalted butter, cut into 1″ cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup clover honey
  • 5 TB milk
  • 2 TB vanilla extract

Topping – 3 TB granulated sugar and 1 tspn ground cinnamon

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in bowl of mixer.  Mix to incorporate.  Add butter and mix on low until consistency of coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla extract.  Add to the flour mixture until dough barely comes together.   It will be quite sticky.   Lay on large piece of plastic wrap, dust with flour, form into rectangle 1″ thick.  Wrap and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to make crackers – roll out half the dough; returning other half to chill.   Layer down the flour (very sticky to work with until you get the flour integrated in).  Roll dough 1/8″ thick.   Cut the dough into squares and place on baking sheets.  Chill again for 30-45 minutes.   You can use the knife and make line indents to resemble the graham cracker look (see pictures).

Bake 20-25 minutes on 350 degrees depending on thickness.   Watch carefully so they don’t burn!  I created some shapes with cookie cutters.

Head on over to Munchie Monday to see more recipes or add one of your own!   Enjoy!!

 

Press those Flowers!

~ Now is the  time to bring a little summer sunshine into your surroundings ~  and I will show you how!

With temperatures dipping well below zero and winds gusting outside with a high pitch screech and lasting echo, it’s hardly time to think hot summer days.   Let’s … for a moment … forget the current outdoor conditions and relish in the past … the hot days spent lounging poolside, gathering flowers to adorn the table and taking a few sprigs here and there and “pressing them” to save for later.   As we gaze into the fire as we sip our hot cocoa, we can envision the swaying sunflowers dancing in the breeze.     Let’s talk flowers!

Using pressed flowers is not a new idea … earlier this year I created this post and it is an easy art to conquer.   I think we simply overlook all the possibilities to save those moments of celebration.   Saving our corsages, bouquets or even a bundle of  flowers picked up from the market will extend the memory and bring joy long after the event has passed.

My stash of saved pressed foliage has a variety of flowers, ferns and even herbs that were picked and pressed in heavy phone books for several weeks to several months.   I always thought the flower had to be small and flat to press successfully, but I have had great success with bigger and thicker flowers as well.   The trick is using heavier weights and longer drying time.

Working out your design and what you intend to create using your pressed flowers should be fun and care taken to handle the flowers carefully since they are now rather fragile.   Tweezers are ideal for handling and if petals or stems break off, you can glue right back into place.   The recommended glue to use for placement and also sealing is a product called Mod Podge.   It can be found at craft stores – most supermarkets also carry this product.

A favorite design I enjoy is using the flowers on cards for special occasions and special people.   There are many ways to use your precious flowers and there is no limit on what your imagination can create.

As you browse through the gardening catalogs on these cold snowy days, envision the colorful, fragrant fields of flowers you can grow or better yet… Jump in the car and head to the store for a bundle of beauty!   Enjoy them now and save some for later!

Tomato and Garlic – 3 easy recipes!

Gourmet Garlic Giveaway will be posted 9/7/10!  

Will be posted at this blog and at GreatGiveaways!

This time of year tomatoes are ripening up faster than we can eat them and the garlic is awaiting its chance to liven up our recipes!   Earlier in the week I made up a quick quiche, a tasty salsa and a light pasta dish using plenty of tomatoes and garlic.   I really didn’t measure up I just added as I went along and it all came out fantastic.

The quiche got a little toasty on top but that made it more unique and tasty!   I started with a pre-made crust and added a layer of zucchini which I sauted a bit to soften up.   I added the garlic for a few minutes to the zucchini in the pan before adding both to the crust.   I used the Persian Star garlic and this is the first time I tasted this variety and I love it!   I don’t have any for sale this year but I will be planting for a harvest next year.   It has the right amount of kick and large cloves for easy peeling … a keeper!   I then added egg substitute and a few handfuls of mozzarella cheese along with chopped basil and spoonfuls of ricotta cheese.   The final topping was tomatoes and more cheese.   I baked it in the oven at 350 for about a half hour.

The salsa never lasts long in this house – it’s so fresh tasting … you can’t stop eating it!   I used Cherokee Purple tomatoes so it appears rather dark and I did drain off liquid several times since these tomatoes are very juicy.   I simply chopped the tomatoes, onion, garlic, fresh cilantro and jalapeno pepper and let chill in the refrigerator.

Lastly the pasta dish which is chilling right now and will make a great lunch for me in a few hours!   I boiled up the bow tie pasta, chopped some smaller roma tomatoes and also added some dried tomatoes (they have such a nice sweet flavor), added black olives, garbanzo beans, onion, basil and of course the garlic!   A few shakes of an oil and vinegar dressing and a dash of pepper and it’s all set.

Healthy and Easy …… can’t beat that!!!

Garlic For Sale and Pickled Recipe

The garlic has been cured for a month now and I spent several days cleaning it so I do have some which I will be listing in my store next week for sale!

There are 4 different varieties but the quantity will be limited since I am working on planting more each year so I need to save some for that and I am rethinking which varieties I will grow.   With the move down south in the future I have to consider the different climate elements…it appears the hardneck do much better than the softneck down south.

A while back I pickled up the garlic scapes and I really enjoy them so I decided to try canning up some actual garlic.   I found this simple recipe in Ball Blue Book of preserving and decided on 3 different varieties to try… Chet’s Italian, Inchelium Red and Chrysalis Purple – 2 softs and a hardneck.

The first step in this process was peeling all the garlic (keeping each type separate from the other). 

Then I blanched the garlic  in boiling water for 1 minute & drained.   The recipe yields 6 half pints using 6 cups of peeled cloves garlic, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon canning salt and 3 cups vinegar.  Combine the sugar, salt and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pack the hot garlic in your canning jars and ladle the hot liquid over the garlic leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust two-piece canning lids and process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Someone suggested peeling some garlic and storing in a jar in the refrigerator for easy and quick access when cooking stating this would encourage more use of the garlic .   I agree but not so sure how long the garlic will keep this way and stay fresh – thinking it would need to be used within a short timeframe.   Any suggestions??

Garlic now listed for sale at my store

Seed Paper Flowers and The Big Card!

I have seen this idea posted on the internet in the past and I thought I would give it a try since I have been accumulating little scraps of paper as I work with my Cricut.   This is quite easy and I was unsure if it would work, but it Did!   First, I took the scraps of paper and put them in the blender ..

Added water and blended  ..

You can see the paper and water turned to mush and it’s even colored which is neat.   I added marigold seeds to the paper mush and added all this to a colander to squeeze out the excess water.   I had a flower mold which I then added the mush or pulp to – you can spread this out on a cookie sheet and cut out shapes if you don’t have a mold.

 Plastic flower mold

I am letting these air dry.   I did read you can dry them in the oven on low heat but since I haven’t tried that I can’t say how it works.   If you are in a hurry it might work out.   These flowers or any shape you create can be added to a card for Easter or Mother’s Day.   The idea is to plant the whole flower – paper and seeds and let it grow!   Cool idea – now we will have to test it and see if the flowers grow.

Speaking of cards, I have been working on a BIG card for my son.   He is turning 21 in May and the idea hit me this week to create a card and bring it along to the holiday parties this weekend (he is away at college, so he won’t see it) and have all the family members sign it.

 This is designed on a full sheet of poster board and the images cut on the Cricut.  I will bring along the tags for everyone to write something on and then glue them in and add more designs to finish it off.   I left plenty of space since I don’t know how many signed tags I will end up with.

 Inside of card

I have realized that working and creating cards and designs takes quite a bit of creative imagination.   You may see something you want to create but sitting there with all the supplies in front of you seems to just draw a blank.   So I have been doodling or just playing around with different items like stamps and cut out shapes and words and this is working for ideas.   For instance – I saw this concept of stamping the background of paper (heavy and light) and using it as a design ……

So I just started doodling with the stamps and shapes and I like this idea.   I will make up some cute Easter cards to give out this weekend … doodle thoughts work great!!!